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Critical Factors in Implementing an IT System in Health Facilities

Free «Critical Factors in Implementing an IT System in Health Facilities» Essay Sample

The phrase “electronic medical records” (EMRs) signifies the computerized systems that are employed for gathering, stowing as well as disseminating patients’ clinical information. They provide the legible and systematized recording for accessing clinical data pertaining to individual patients. Currently, despite the positive effects of using EMRs in a healthcare institution, the adoption of such systems have remained low due to resistance by a significant number of physicians. The EHRs represent important tools that can be employed to improve the safety and the quality of care in medical institutions, but physicians must accept to use the IT systems to gain such benefits.

Factors that Have Made Medical Institutions Reluctant to Implement EHRs

Lack of Sufficient Computer Skills

The skills required for a medical practitioner to listen to patients’ complaints, assess the complaints’ relevance, evaluate potential interventions and type notes at the same time need a high level of concentration. Moreover, a medical practitioner must also have fast typing skills and possess the knowledge of using the EHRs interface, which are all competencies that are also not found in the most skilled computer users. Today, most EHRs providers seem to underestimate the level of skills mandated for the physicians to use such systems. Although EHRs may appear user-friendly, in practice, physicians may find them quite complex to apply.

High Implementation Cost

The cost of acquiring EMRs could be remarkably high for a healthcare institution. In most cases, physicians are a faced with the challenge of weighing the costs of developing as well as supporting their information technology (IT) applications. This is against the costs of acquiring external vendors for such essential IT services. Consequently, due to the high costs of EMRs, most physicians are unwilling to adopt the EMRs and, instead, use external companies for their IT needs. The high costs associated with obtaining EMRs include purchasing, coordinating, monitoring, negotiating, upgrading, and governance.

Lengthy Time Required to Learn EMRs

The period required by physicians to learn the operability of the EMRs in healthcare institutions is also a primary factor affecting the adoption of the technology in most medical institutions. This is because most medical practitioners do not take time to learn about different EMR products and implement them properly. In this case, their lack of time can be attributed to the work demands of the healthcare sector. Furthermore, the insufficient amount pf medical practitioners in the healthcare sector means that the available ones have much work at the hospitals. Consequently, physicians do not have enough time to study the effective usage of EMRs.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Impact on Patients’ Medical Records

The Act was enacted in 1996 in the United States after being approved by the Congress (Trinckes, 2012). The Act, among other functions, provides protection to patients on matters of pertaining to their personal health information, including the data recorded by EMRs. There are several ways in which the HIPAA impacts the patients’ medical records. First, the HIPAA requirements offer patients the power to have more control of their health information. In this case, people are offered the ability to set limits on the use as well as the release of their medical records. Second, the Act creates a set of privacy standards for all physicians outlining the penalties that can be imposed on those who infringe the privacy of patients’ healthcare information.

Moreover, the HIPAA Act implies the system of security protection for all patients’ medical records. This is because the HIPAA compliant providers are always kept up-to-date on all emerging IT security threats that may compromise the patients’ medical records. Furthermore, the Act issues SSL Certifications (Certs) to medical practitioners as a way of keeping the communication between them and their patients confidential (McCormick & Gugerty, 2013). Additionally, the SSl Certs mandates that all server communications that deals with individual healthcare records and occur between physicians and patients via texts, emails, and all through to the server level must have safeguards and protocols for all server communications.

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Advantages and Demerits of the Adoption of the HITECH Act for Healthcare Professionals

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was enacted in 2009 in the United States (Grama, 2014). The Act was enforced to encourage the usage of EMRs among numerous healthcare institutions in the nation. Besides, the primary goal of the Act is to ensure that there is a meaningful application of EMRs in medical facilities by practitioners. There are several advantages associated with the enactment of the HITECH Act for medical workers. First, the Act promised maximum incentive payments to all healthcare organizations that successfully adopt as well as use EMRs.

Additionally, as a part of its meaningful usage requirement, the Act mandates that healthcare providers show the effective employment of EMRs in offering quality care to patients. It must portray its efforts in improving the quality exchange of healthcare information between physicians and patients. Consequently, this has led to the realization of more associated advantages to the healthcare providers such as the potential to offer more assistance to patients. Moreover, it has enabled medical institutions to save more on their operating expenses and in optimizing the total time spent on patients. Nevertheless, despite its advantages, the HITECH Act has also generated several drawbacks.

HITECH Act has propelled healthcare institutions operating in the United States to incur additional operating expenses that were previously not present when using the traditional medical record system. Additionally, most hospitals have been forced to budget for the high upfront costs for acquiring the EHRs. Other associated costs include the ongoing maintenance costs and those that occurred due to disruption of operations in hospitals in case there is an EHRs’ performance failure. Ultimately, the forceful adoption of EHRs by medical practitioners has farther heightened the privacy concerns of patients visiting medical institutions in the country.

Suggestion that Medical Practitioners Could Use

To mitigate the increased costs connected to acquiring EHRs due to HITECH Act requirements, there should be the collective acceptance by medical practitioners to use and implement this system in a meaningful way. From the HITECH Act provisions, it is evident that the effective use of EHRs can create substantial benefits for patients, healthcare providers, and the overall society by improving the rate of healthcare outcomes among the former and, in turn, reducing the high costs of taking care of such patients. Such accrued cost advantages of using the EHRs in a proper manner can counteract the high initial costs of acquiring and implementing the systems in a clinical setting.

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Typical Workflow Processes within Health Organizations when Using EHRs and the Significant Process that Should Be Eradicated to Improve Its Performance

Despite their substantial advantages in an organization, there is one process in the EHRs that should be eradicated to improve the effectiveness of the system. It is the multilayered usage of protocols for accessing data from the EHRs in different departments within an organization. Arguably, the protocols employed in the EHRs are focused on promoting the security levels of patients’ data in medical facilities through the application of multiple varying passwords offered to each approved healthcare provider in the medical institution. Nevertheless, despite their importance, they often cause a waste of time on the providers’ side.

Every time a new patient visits a medical facility, a doctor or a nurse has to input a password to the EHR system to access the client’s medical data. Consequently, this can be remarkably tedious and time-wasting in situations where the healthcare practitioners have many clients or if there is a loss of password. Still, to remedy this process issue in the EHR, only senior medical personnel should be allowed to control the login credentials in the system. Additionally, in such an event, a single password can be delegated to all approved healthcare providers and used to access multiple patients’ records at the same time for a specified medical institution’s working period.

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How Key Federal Initiatives Impact on Patients’ Healthcare Data

There are several ways through which the key federal initiative creates an impact on the standards of healthcare information provision. This is in reference to the patients’ privacy, safety as well as confidentiality. First, the HIPAA and HITECH Acts have enacted significant measures focused on safeguarding the protected health information (PHI) for patients. Moreover, the National Conference of State Legislatures has enforced the data breach notification laws for the forty-six states in America (Nozaki & Tipton, 2016). As well, the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights has decided to enhance the level of privacy for the patients (Trinckes, 2012). Ultimately, these federal initiatives have immensely promoted the privacy as well as the confidentiality of all patients’ data shared with healthcare providers in the nation.

Fundamental Advantages of Applying an IT System within Health Care Organizations

The effective usage of EHRs and other IT systems can help to attain improved healthcare outcomes in medical facilities because it has far-reaching capabilities in reference to the number and the coordination of services that can be offered to patients. Consequently, this would translate into an improved rate of healthcare outcomes among patients in medical institutions. Furthermore, IT systems offer a potential to significantly increase the rate of patients’ access to healthcare services. In such a case, through such systems, healthcare organizations can have effective storage of patients’ records, such as contact information that would enable them to reach all their patients with ease. For instance, doctors can email or use online messaging devices to contact their patients for a clinical follow-up exercise.

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Future IT Developments in EHRs

Two primary developments will take place in the usage of EHRs in the next two decades. First, there will be the simplification as well as the speedier documentation of patients’ data. In this case, the data entry functions in the EHRs will be separated from the data reporting one. Secondly, the EHRs vendors will use APIs that will is transparent to researchers, innovators, and patients. Consequently, this will aid in the innovation of more advanced and user-friendly EHRs for the healthcare institutions.

Conclusion

In conclusion, EHRs represents important tools that can be employed to improve the safety and the quality of care in medical organizations. Nevertheless, in order to obtain such advantages, physicians must actively apply the EHRs. The reasons of medical workers’ unwillingness to do so include the lack of sufficient computer skills, high implementation costs of EHRs and the long period required to learn the EHRs’ usage. Furthermore, the HIPAA and HITECH Acts are some of the federal policies that were enacted to promote the usage of EHRs in healthcare institutions through the development of a platform where both the medical practitioners and patients can benefit from the employment of EHRs in healthcare facilities.

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